Today, Starbucks announced the opening of the Penang Signing Store, its second in Malaysia and fourth globally, as part of its ongoing commitment to inclusion, accessibility and diversity. Located in the heart of Penang’s historic Deaf community, the store creates new career opportunities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing partners (employees), while also serving as the Third Place for Penang’s long-established Deaf community to host sign language workshops and career development seminars.
“The overwhelming success of our first Signing Store in Kuala Lumpur in 2016 demonstrated the importance of representation and belonging in the workplace,” said Sydney Quays, managing director of Starbucks Malaysia & Brunei. “It taught us how valuing different perspectives not only contributes back to the business, but also makes meaningful changes that enriches lives. The reason that we chose Penang is because of its rich culture and historic relationship with the Deaf community in Malaysia, spanning more than 50 years.”
Starbucks Malaysia partnered with the Penang Deaf Association to support the professional training and development of the store’s partners, including internship opportunities and sign language classes for the store’s seven hearing partners. “We’re very excited to partner with Starbucks to provide richer career opportunities and a sense of belonging to the Deaf community in Penang,” said Razman Tan Abdullah, President of the Penang Deaf Association. “Starbucks stores are a place for many kinds of people to come together, and we’re proud to invite everyone to experience the vibrant Deaf culture that has thrived here in Penang for over 70 years.”
The three-story, 4,600 sq. ft. store in Penang showcases how digital innovation enhances inclusive design. Touchpoints around the store have been designed specifically to meet the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing partners and customers, including visual alarms, digital trays and point-of-sale systems with an attached customer display.
The store design celebrates Deaf culture with a mural wall created by local Deaf artist Lim Anuar. Exclusive Signing Store merchandise will also be available, including the first Starbucks Cards to feature Starbucks in sign language, as well as mugs and keychains.
The U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, attended the opening ceremony and praised Starbucks Malaysia’s innovative Signing Store format, which launched in the U.S. in 2018 and China in May 2019. “Starbucks should be lauded for their proactive approach to diverse hiring. It has set a positive example of how an American company can learn and adapt to a program that was initiated right here in Malaysia, by Malaysians. I continue to take great pride in promoting the commitment to inclusion and the outstanding corporate social responsibility work showcased by American firms like Starbucks that operate in Malaysia.”
“As a global brand, Starbucks believes that one of the most important contributions we can make is to serve as a catalyst for positive impact in the communities where we do business,” said John Culver, group president, International, Channel Development and Global Coffee & Tea. “For nearly 50 years, we’ve aimed to live by our Mission and Values everywhere around the world. We are proud of our partners in Malaysia for taking the lead in inclusion, accessibility and diversity, and inspiring us to expand the Signing Store format around the world.”
In conjunction with the launch day, the store will offer the Vanilla Fig Frappuccino® blended beverage at a special opening price. For each purchase, Starbucks Malaysia will donate RM1 (0.24USD) to the Penang Deaf Association to develop programs that will support the community
Since Starbucks opened its first store in Malaysia in 1998, Starbucks Malaysia has grown to 300 stores across 58 cities, employing more than 4,000 partners